How to make fitness fun for special needs children
The best way to help young people with neurodevelopmental disorders like autism and ADHD is to exercise more often and making fitness fun. A child having fun was a much greater indicator of how likely he or she was to continue exercising. By identifying an activity they are good at, such as playing basketball to running or tennis, they can be encouraged to stay active.
Studies have shown that exercise reduces behavioral problems such as the need for repetition, disruptiveness, aggression and self-injury in people with autism and ADHD. These benefits can last for several hours during and after exercise. One of the most effective treatments for autistic people is exercise. Vigorous exercise of 20-minutes or longer aerobic workout, 3 to 4 days a week has the best result. Mild exercise has little effect on behavior. Many autistic children gain weight if they have an inactive lifestyle, and weight gain brings another set of problems.
Here are a few tips to help your children with autism and ADHD become excited to participate in a fitness program and improve kids’ health:
Create progress sheets/ displays
Everyone likes to see improvement. A visual representation which shows the child’s improvement can help encourage and motivate them to do better.
Exercise routine based on your child’s interest
Shape the exercise routine to fit your child’s hobbies. For example, if your child enjoys comic books, create an obstacle course based on their favorite comic characters. Pretend play with various obstacles and overcome them.
Make exercises fun
If your child likes videogames, choose for some games that combine the benefits of exercising with gaming. This is known as exergaming. It may help improve neural connections in the brain of children with special needs.
Exercise with Family
Everyone can benefit from exercising and can also become role models for their kids by helping them try new activities. Show them fitness can be exciting and fun, and can be easily incorporated in daily life.
Reward difficult exercises
When children do difficult exercises, reward them with 10 minutes of a fun activity your child selects. They try their best to complete difficult tasks in order to have the freedom to choose their ending activity. This helps build self-esteem and empowers the child to make decisions about their fitness routine.
Focus on how to motivate your child to exercise on their own. Asking them to continually perform exercises for a small reward will not last long, but helping them find enjoyment in exercise will promote lifelong fitness. Several exercise tools are available on Help Them Shine to make exercise fun for them.